Universität Bielefeld

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British and American Studies/

Who We Are

Teaching — Research — Student Activities: the Bielefeld British and American Studies department has it all! A strong, international English-speaking world in the centre of East-Westphalia, we offer courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as conduct research in linguistics, literature, cultural studies, language teaching and teacher education. A quick overview of the scope of our research-based teaching can be found under the Anglistik entries in the electronic course catalog eKVV.

The British and American Studies department is engaged in five main areas of research and teaching:
1. English Linguistics
2. British Studies (Literature and Culture)
3. North American Studies (Literature and Culture)
4. American Studies with focus on Gender Studies
5. English as a Foreign Language

Besides Britain and North America (USA and Canada), teaching and research activities in these fields also include the language, literatures and cultures of English-speaking Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, India, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Our department is committed to using English in every possible context. Our classes and research activities (in as wide a range of topics as narratology, cultural studies of music, postmodernism black America, postmodernism, film studies, gender studies, morphology, childhood studies, critical game studies, Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TFL), migration and conflict, and creative writing) are not only about English but also in English.

If you plan to join us for a BA or a MA degree in Anglistik or to complete your doctoral studies with us, please check out our homepage, get in touch with the program advisers, and apply in the forthcoming round of applications!

Research Strengths

English and American Studies has four major research areas, also corresponding to its four areas of teaching:


The linguistics research group has a strong interest in sociolinguistics with a special emphasis on pidgin and creole languages and varieties of English in regions such as Africa, North America, and the British Isles. Above and beyond that, there is a strong research interest in morphology, language change, standardization processes, causation and areas of applied linguistics such as sign language, forensic linguistics, first language acquisition, multilingualism, and English as a lingua franca.

Team: Anne Schröder
British literature and culture

The section of British Literary and Cultural Studies not only engages with the classical literary genres of drama, prose, and poetry from around the sixteenth century until today, but also with film, painting, photography, music, non-literary texts and other media and art forms.

Our teaching and research is informed by a keen awareness of critical literary and cultural theories. We are interested in how literature and other cultural products contribute to the social construction of reality, and thus we study these phenomena in the context of their social, political, economic, and ideological history.

Here in Bielefeld, we put special emphasis on the intersection of narrative form and power. Our Study Group for Critical Discursive Narratology (see link below) is interested in how the formal construction of fictional texts contributes to their ideological construction of critical categories like gender, race, class, age, etc. And, on a meta-level, we ask how the narratological description of form presupposes values and ideologies both in the text and its scholarly analysis.

Ralf Schneider Study Group for Critical Discursive Narratology
American literature and culture

The American Studies section has an interdisciplinary research focus on identity politics, new ethnicities, and mobility studies. Primarily research is conducted in the field of cultural studies and ethnic literatures. The department has launched the International Postgraduate Forum for American Studies and hosts the online journal FIAR (Forum for Inter-American Research). It is involved in both British American and Inter-American Studies. Teaching and research develop within a critical approach to American Studies that emphasizes transnational and inter-American aspects in close collaboration with the transnational projects of the history and sociology departments at Bielefeld University.

The American Studies section hosts FIAR (Forum for Inter-American Research), an online journal and exchange forum open to interdisciplinary research with a special emphasis on postgraduate work within American and Inter-American Studies.

English as a Foreign Language

Our section looks into questions of what and how to teach in English as a foreign language (TEFL) classes at school. Within the TEFL section, there are different strands of research: Focusing on linguistic aspects on the one hand, we investigate how the fact that English nowadays functions as the lingua franca of globalization affects the way it should be taught and how different variations of global Englishes are represented in the classroom (research projects of Carolin Zehne and Peter Schildhauer). What actually happens in the classroom when you apply, for example, cooperative learning is researched empirically (project 'ICooL - Interaction in ELT Cooperative Learning Phases', Schildhauer) with video data which can also be used for critical reflection in teacher education. Another research project in the classroom aims at developing a portfolio specifically tailored to the needs and abilities of children who are taught bilingually in primary school. The portfolio serves as a way to measure the students? language level and development from year one to four as well as to ease the transition from primary to secondary school (cooperation with the Diesterwegschule: research project of Manon Greenyer-Schüler, Patricia Skorge and Carolin Zehne). Using her Creative Writing seminar at the university as a laboratory full of willing guinea-pigs, Patricia Skorge is also currently collecting data on digital creative writing techniques and their affordances in the EFL classroom.

The focus of the new chair for TEFL, on the other hand, is on how to teach literature and culture. This entails asking which texts and films are relevant to young learners and which goals of foreign language teaching can best be reached with the help of fictional texts and through which ways of approaching those texts. Another current issue is how to teach culture: If we think of English as the lingua franca of globalization it means that teaching culture diversifies, that it is no longer restricted to teaching about the UK/US but about many other cultures as well as subcultures or cultural categories such as gender, class, race, religion, age or ability including the power relations involved in these aspects (research projects by Lotta König). Thinking about culture this way also enhances the role of students as cultural agents and we try to further conceptualize their participation in cultural constructions. Since (digital) media play an important role in linguistic, literary and cultural developments as well as in the classroom, we are all interested in the implications of digitalization for our respective research interests.

Facts and Figures

Current Projects

Recent Projects